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Market research is one of the most important facets of marketing that begins long before your campaigns have launched.

If your active advertising campaigns are lacking success, or if you’re planning on publishing some brand new ads soon, you need market research to help you build a strong foundation to achieve your marketing goals in the future.

Market research will also inform your marketing strategy for the future, help you to optimize your marketing approach and find new exciting opportunities in your industry.

We’ve outlined a simple step by step process to help you conduct market research below. Dive right in!

What is market research?

Market research is the process of finding out whether your product is viable on the market, who will want to buy it, and why they need what you have to offer. 

Market research allows you to make informed decisions surrounding your brand, offerings such as your products, services or tailoring your core messaging. Market research is essential to provide you with the input you need to define the right approach to a single market, or toward multiple target audiences. 

Market research broadly revolves around collecting important information about your industry niche – from thoughtfully assessing who your ideal customers are, to defining your brand positioning and exploring viable opportunities. 

If you’re looking to launch a product, start a business, revamp your brand, or hone your advertising campaigns, the value of market research cannot be overstated! 

Market research is THE key to giving your product the best chance of succeeding in an ever-more-competitive market. When you truly understand why consumers would buy your product versus a competitor’s product, you can laser-focus your content and core messaging to hit potential customers with maximum impact.

Primary VS secondary market research sources

When conducting market research, you’ll get the information you need from two sources: primary and secondary research.

Primary market research is research that you actively conduct. This can include but is not limited to, surveys, focus groups, interviews and other research methods to assess your target. Primary research usually takes longer and costs far more than secondary research. The extra cost and effort are worth it because you get results that pertain specifically to your product. 

Secondary market research comes from sources like data companies, census bureaus, market statistics, your own historical sales data, and industry publications. This data has already been collected, all you have to do is seek it out.

people writing on sticky notes in an office

Types of market research

There’s almost no limit to the types of market research you can do to gain more insight into how your product will fare on the marketplace. Anything that helps you understand potential customers’ minds better counts as market research. There are many tried-and-true methods for market research that are proven to lead to insightful results. Here are the most popular methods of conducting market research.


Interviews allow you to get face-to-face with your customers. 

In addition to gaining information from the verbal responses of interviewees, interviewers can also glean information from body language, tone of voice and other physical or emotional cues, which add depth and dimension to their verbal answers.

interview with customers

Focus Groups

A focus group is a selected group of people that are brought together for the purposes of research. 

Focus groups are typically asked to answer open-ended questions and provide valuable feedback including their impression, likability, thoughts, feelings and ideas relating to a product, brand or service.

focus group with people providing their ideas on a business' product or service

Product/Service Use Research

Product/service use research helps you discover how and why customers use your product. One of the most valuable aspects of product/service research is that it uncovers which features are most important and which ones don’t matter so much to your target audience.

During the process, you may even find out more about your intended market’s feelings when using your product or service as compared to one of your rival competitor’s product or services.

Observation-Based Research

In observation-based research, your team assesses how consumers interact with your product. 

Observation-based research can provide incredible insights for User Experience (U.X) design, shedding light on key aspects which are a hit and which elements could be tailored to be more user friendly for your customers.

Buyer Persona Research

Buyer persona research helps you truly understand your target audience. In buyer persona research, you dive into learning more about your potential customers. During the process, you aim to understand the demographics and psychographics related to your ideal customers.

Uncovering key personas within your broader target market can help you picture a customer’s typical lifestyle, personality and behaviours better – including their age, gender and possible income, to likes, dislikes, core motivations, general pain points, buying patterns & much more.

customer personas for market research icons

Market Segmentation Research

The people who want to buy your product, or get invested in your brand personality typically fit into different categories.

Market segmentation research allows you to split your overall “target audience” into smaller groups based on their characteristics and impression of your brand/product. This way, you can tailor your marketing to target each group’s unique pain points with product solutions, get them to take action or interact with you.

market segmentation infographic

Pricing Research

Pricing research lets you know how your prices compare to your competitors, and if you can afford to price your product/service higher due to adding more value to your customers’ lives than competitors, or whether your price point should be lowered to provide a competitive advantage over competitors. 

Pricing research will also help you predict your customers’ response to price changes, and discover the psychological effects of price points on sales.

pricing research spreadsheet

Competitive Analysis Research

Competitive analysis research helps you determine who your competitors are and how they’re performing in your industry niche. Figuring out their effective strategies in the marketplace can help you emulate and improve upon their efforts to further your own business interests. You’ll also gain valuable insights into what they’re doing wrong so you can exploit their weaker areas and capitalise on key markets. 

Understanding your brand, product and services in relation to your industry’s competitors is crucial to gain a competitive edge that will help you stand out from the pack!

Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty Research

It’s a lot easier to keep current customers coming back than to acquire new customers. Customer satisfaction and loyalty research help you understand what motivates your customers to stay loyal to your brand.

This can help you improve the components of your marketing strategy and help you to push your most valuable elements from your customers’ perspective.

satisfied happy customer at pay point in store

Brand Awareness Research

It’s a lot easier to keep current customers coming back than to acquire new customers. Customer satisfaction and loyalty research help you understand what motivates your customers to stay loyal to your brand.

This can help you improve the components of your marketing strategy and help you to push your most valuable elements from your customers’ perspective.

Campaign Research

Campaign research dives deep into the successes and failures of your past advertising campaigns, so you know how to direct your future marketing efforts for better results. 

Campaign research can also be used to plan your first marketing campaign with the right approach in mind.

team meeting pointing at planning document

How can market research improve future advertising campaigns?

Market research supercharges your ad dollars!

Truly understanding the right target markets to reach out to with your marketing campaigns, your competitors and the perceptions of your product will help you tailor ad campaigns that consistently convert. 

It can be expensive and time-consuming to conduct market research, but it is an absolutely worthwhile foundation for your brand and any marketing campaigns you plan to launch.

printed paper with graphs and data

How do you do market research when creating advertising campaigns?

When creating an advertising campaign, it’s best to do market research in steps that correlate with where you are in the ad creation process. This helps your team not get overwhelmed with too much data at once and focus only on what’s important for each step.

typing on a laptop with advertising on the screen

Pre campaign

1. Define buyer personas within your target audience

The first step to effectively marketing your product is knowing your target audience and buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a fictional character that represents your ideal customer. When building buyer personas (there will likely be several for your business), you’ll take into account demographics, like age, gender, education level, income and marital status, as well as qualitative research and psychographics such as likes, dislikes motivations, needs, goals, behaviours and patterns. 

Buyer personas need to include age, gender, income, educational level, marital status, location, and pain points. A lot of developing buyer personas is intelligent guesswork. If you have market research already done, this can help. 

Once you understand your ideal target markets in the form of archetypes, you’ll be able to craft your ad campaigns that will resonate with various audiences. 

2. Set goals and budget

With your buyer personas in hand, it’s time to set the goals and budget for your marketing campaigns and figure out which portion of your budget you’ll divert to market research before launching your ad campaigns.

As much as it is important to ensure that you have enough budget to reach your marketing objectives, you’ll be shooting into the dark if you don’t account for a budget to conduct market research. 

First and foremost, you need to know some of, but not limited to, the following: 

  • What are your competitors up to? 
  • How is your product viewed by consumers? 
  • Is there a need for a new product in your space? 
  • Which pain points haven’t you provided solutions for yet? 
  • How does your audience engage with advertisements? Which platforms? And which types of ads do they find most appealing?

Apart from the above, you’ll probably have an array of pressing questions you’d like answered about your brand, products, or services before you start advertising. Assign an appropriate budget to your market research efforts and you’ll be well-informed during the creation phase of your marketing campaign. 

team pointing at a planning board


3. Creative concept, central messaging, channel distribution

Now that you know who you’re talking to and how much you have to invest to make an impact in your market space, it’s time to find out where to connect with potential customers and what type of messaging will resonate best. 

Check out market reports that show which channels your target audience finds most engaging and which platforms they use the most. 

Different audiences will have different preferences for media consumption – watching TV, listening to the radio, streaming music online, viewing print ads on public transportation, scrolling social media, or visiting specific websites in your market space. 

For creative concepts and central messaging insight, finding hard data may be more difficult. 

But you can learn a lot by looking at what your competitors are doing and understanding your brand completely.

Don’t forget to investigate what brands that you share a target audience with ( but are not your direct competitors) are doing in marketing. You can get great ideas from products and services that aren’t related to what you’re selling and adapt similar principles to hone your marketing approach. 

4. Pre-testing

You’ve got some great ideas for your ad campaign. Before you spend a lot of time and money to create ads, run your ideas past focus groups first. 

Some ideas will fall flat immediately in front of a real audience, and some will resonate instantly. 

Tapping into a focus group at this stage will help you know the difference between the two. 

You can test your prospective marketing approach with simple storyboards, scripts or media (short videos & imagery) produced in-house. You’ll want to ask your focus group questions relating to their perceptions, engagement with your messaging, recall, and how persuasive your pitch might be in comparison to competitors. You can test several ideas at once in the pre-testing stage. 

5. Insight for ad development

Search for ways to spark creativity in your team so you have a wide variety of ideas to choose from. This is your exploratory stage. 

Start with an audit of all the market research and insights you already have to jumpstart your creative process. Don’t forget about your buyer personas, and developing different ads to match the target audiences that you’ve identified.

6. AB Split tests

Split testing pits one element of an ad against another. The idea is to change a single element at a time to see what influences the ad’s effectiveness. 

For example, you may split test two identical ads, but each has a different tagline or call-to-action. 

This kind of split test could be conducted through focus groups, but you could also dedicate a smaller portion of your marketing budget toward actively split testing online or physical ads during the early stages of your marketing campaign – before sinking all of your advertising budget into a single approach. 

A/B testing can help you find specific things that work well in your campaign, such as soundtrack, font, artworks, taglines, call to actions, creative media and more.

7. Consult market reports

A lot of marketing is creativity but more often than date informs the foundation from which creativity flourishes. It’s why nowadays Facebook ads are able to provide a mix of default headlines, call-to-actions and creative media suggestions for your campaigns – prompted by years of data collection and a complex algorithm.

To ensure your creative energy isn’t misplaced, review market reports from your industry to find information that can help you craft powerful campaigns. 

The more information you have about your target audience, the space in their lives that you can fill with value, and what drives them to act – the easier it will be to persuade them to give you a chance. 

8. Conduct competitor analysis

Gaining a complete understanding of your competitors helps you put yourself ahead of them. After all, you and your competitors are fighting for similar sets of customers. 

Some of the best ads ever made actually play on marketing approaches the audience is already familiar with from other brands. To beat your competitors at their own game, you’ll need to have a complete understanding of their products, audiences and messaging, plus what’s working well, and which approaches are a flop.

9. Engage your existing audience

Your current audience is often the very best place to find ideas for your new marketing campaign. 

Not only will you get great feedback from real-life users of your product, but asking your audience to participate in creating new ad campaigns creates customer buy-in, and consumers feel connected to things they help create. 

A great example of this is user-generated content which is often used by advertisers to build upon their existing customer relationships while spreading the word to new audiences. 

data graphs on paper on top of a laptop

Post campaign

11. KPI results & evaluating marketing objectives

Is your current ad campaign achieving all of what you set out to accomplish? 

Review your KPIs and evaluate your marketing objectives after a set period of time. If your current ad campaign is performing as well as expected, great! If not, it’s time to work back through the previous steps to see what you can tweak to improve your campaign’s performance.

12. Post campaign research & monitoring

Now that your campaign is done, it’s time to do a “post-game wrap up” to determine the overall success of the campaign. You’ll want to pay special attention to: 

  • What worked well in the campaign and who engaged with your ads?
  • Elements of the campaign that did not work so well and elements to improve.
  • Your marketing spend relative to the goals you wanted to achieve within your set time period.

Another key aspect of post-campaign research and monitoring is paying attention to your marketing return on investment. Assessing whether your return on investment matched up with your marketing spend will be crucial to factor in future advertising campaigns. If you’re not sure how to measure your marketing ROI, we can help you. 

Post campaign research will be one of the very best sources of market research for future campaigns.

Dive deep into each element of your advertising campaign and review your placements, types of ads, timing, engagement, audience, creative media, and more. Every piece of data counts. It’s worth the time and effort to do a thorough post-campaign data analysis so you’re armed with the knowledge to make even better-informed decisions for your marketing in the future.

pen pointing to data graphs on paper

Begin your advertising journey with expert marketers

In Africa and the Middle East, it can be tough to find reliable market research – which is valuable to small, medium, and large businesses.

EMPIRE helps you gain insight into these markets with in-depth research and on-the-ground expertise. Our team of insiders live and work in the areas we serve, giving you a local advantage when it comes to advertising in Africa and the Middle East. We can also help you pursue marketing opportunities to match your advertising objectives and budget constraints.

We also offer resources on the best radio shows in the UAE that you can use for advertising placements and the top online magazines in the UAE which provide great print and online marketing placements. 

To get the competitive edge with marketing efforts, contact EMPIRE today!

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